Democide: Wikis


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Democide is a term coined by political scientist R. J. Rummel for "the murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder." Rummel created the term as an extended concept to include forms of government murder that are not covered by the legal definition of genocide, and it has found currency among other scholars.[1][2][3]



Democide is death by government relating to genocides. Democides are not the elimination of entire cultural groups, but rather groups within the country that the government feels they need to be eradicated for political reasons and future threats. According to Rummel, genocide has three different meanings. The ordinary meaning is murder by government of people due to their national, ethnic, racial, or religious group membership. The legal meaning of genocide refers to the international treaty, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This also includes nonlethal acts that in the end eliminate or greatly hinder the group. Looking back on history one can see the different variations of democides that have occurred, but it is still the act of killing or mass murder. A great example would relate to Hitler and Mao Zedong. A generalized meaning of genocide is similar to the ordinary meaning but also includes government killings of political opponents or otherwise intentional murder. In order to avoid confusion over which meaning is intended, Rummel created the term democide for the third meaning.[4]

The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.[5]

Rummel defines democide as "The murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder". For example, government-sponsored killings for political reasons would be considered democide. Democide can also include deaths arising from "intentionally or knowingly reckless and depraved disregard for life"; this brings into account many deaths arising through various neglects and abuses, such as forced mass starvation. Rummel explicitly excludes battle deaths in his definition. Capital punishment, actions taken against armed civilians during mob action or riot, and the deaths of noncombatants killed during attacks on military targets so long as the primary target is military, are not considered democide.[6]

He has further stated: "I use the civil definition of murder, where someone can be guilty of murder if they are responsible in a reckless and wanton way for the loss of life, as in incarcerating people in camps where they may soon die of malnutrition, unattended disease, and forced labor, or deporting them into wastelands where they may die rapidly from exposure and disease."

Some examples of democide cited by Rummel include the Great Purges carried out by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union (despite those people were executed), the deaths from the colonial policy in the Congo Free State, and Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward resulting in a famine which killed millions of people. According to Rummel, these were not cases of genocide, because those who were killed were not selected on the basis of their race, but were killed in large numbers as a result of government policies. Famine is classified by Rummel as democide if it fits the definition above.

For instance, Rummel only recently classified Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward as democide. He believed that Mao's policies were largely responsible for the famine, but he was misled about it, and finally when he found out, he stopped it and changed his policies. Thus, according to Rummel, is not an intentional famine and thus not a democide. However, contradictory claims from Jung Chang and John Halliday's controversial Mao: the Unknown Story allege that Mao knew about the famine from the beginning but didn't care, and eventually Mao had to be stopped by a meeting of 7,000 top Communist Party members. Based on the book's claims, Rummel now views the famine as intentional and a democide.[citation needed]

Research on democide

Accusations of mass killings by a government are relatively common. Less common are well-documented cases with enough evidence to support the accusation. Almost all accusations are disputed to some degree, although the evidence in some cases is stronger than in others.

Rummel's sources include scholarly works, refugee reports, memoirs, biographies, historical analyses, actual exhumed body counts, records kept by the murderers themselves, and so on. In short his data are all estimates available in English for all nations over a period of a century, and available in the libraries he worked in, including the Library of Congress.

He provides the most probable death toll along a low and a high count that are meant to be the most unlikely low and high number of deaths, and thus to bracket the probable true count. It is to determine these lows and highs that he includes what some others might consider absurd estimates. His published books do not include new research and new sources available after the publication date.

Rummel's counts 43 million deaths due to democide during Stalin's regime inside and outside the Soviet Union. This is much higher than an often quoted figure of 20 million. Rummel has responded that this is based on a figure from Robert Conquest's book The Great Terror from 1968 and that Conquest's qualifier "almost certainly too low" is usually forgotten. Conquest's calculations excluded camp deaths after 1950, and before 1936; executions 1939–53; the vast deportation of the people of captive nations into the camps, and their deaths 1939–1953; the massive deportation within the Soviet Union of minorities 1941–1944 and their deaths; and those the Soviet Red Army and secret police executed throughout Eastern Europe after their conquest during 1944–1945. Moreover, the Holodomor that killed 5 million in 1932–1934 is not included.[citation needed]

His research shows that the death toll from democide is far greater than the death toll from war. After studying over 8,000 reports of government caused deaths, Rummel estimates that there have been 262 million victims of democide in the last century. According to his figures, six times as many people have died from the inflictions of people working for governments than have died in battle.

One of his main findings is that liberal democracies have much less democide than authoritarian regimes.[7] He argues that there is a relation between political power and democide. Political mass murder grows increasingly common as political power becomes unconstrained. At the other end of the scale, where power is diffuse, checked, and balanced, political violence is a rarity. According to Rummel, "The more power a regime has, the more likely people will be killed. This is a major reason for promoting freedom." Rummel concludes: "Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth."

Several other researchers have found similar results. "Numerous researchers point out that democratic norms and political structures constrain elite decisions about the use of repression against their citizens whereas autocratic elites are not so constrained." "Once in place, democratic institutions — even partial ones — reduce the likelihood of armed conflict and all but eliminate the risk that it will lead to geno/politicide."[8]

For books, articles, data, and analyses regarding democide, see Rummel's website. In particular, he has an extensive FAQ. He has also made his many sources and the calculations used, from a pre-publisher manuscript of his book Statistics of Democide, available online. Researchers often give widely different estimates of mass murder. They use different definitions, methodology, and sources. For example, some include battle deaths in their calculations. Matthew White has compiled some of these different estimates.


The numbers of people killed in democides are often hard to certify and there are often debates of how many people were actually killed, like the highest and lowest amounts for these dictators, for instance :

Mao Zedong 20 million[citation needed] to 80 million[citation needed]

Joseph Stalin 15 million[citation needed] to 60 million[citation needed]

Adolf Hitler 6 million[citation needed] to 20 million[citation needed].

Some dictators have been more murderous by population of the country which they ruled: Mao Zedong's massive 70 million was about 10% of China's population at the time, while Pol Pot killed roughly 1.7 million people, a massive 21% of Cambodia's population.[9]


Genocides and Politicides from 1955 to 2001

Genocides and Politicides from 1955 to 2001 From No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust?, Barbara Harff, 2003.
Location Dates Est. Deaths (low) Est. Deaths (high)
Sudan 1956/10–1972/3 400,000 600,000
South Vietnam 1965/1–1975/4 400,000 500,000
China 1959/3–1959/12 65,000 65,000
Iraq 1963/6–1975/3 30,000 60,000
Algeria 1962/7–1962/12 9,000 30,000
Rwanda 1963/12–1964/6 12,000 20,000
Congo-K 1964/2–1965/1 1,000 10,000
Burundi 1965/10–1973/12 140,000 140,000
Indonesia 1965/11–1966/7 500,000 1,000,000
China 1966/5–1975/3 400,000 850,000
Guatemala 1978/7–1996/12 60,000 200,000
East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) 1971/3–1971/12 1,000,000 3,000,000
Uganda 1972/2–1979/4 50,000 400,000
Philippines 1972/9–1976/6 60,000 60,000
Pakistan 1973/2–1977/7 5,000 10,000
Chile 1973/9–1976/12 5,000 10,000
Angola 1975/11–2001 500,000 500,000
Cambodia 1975/4–1979/1 1,900,000 3,500,000
Indonesia 1975/12–1992/7 100,000 200,000
Argentina 1976/3–1980/12 9,000 20,000
Ethiopia 1976/7–1979/12 10,000 10,000
Congo-Kinshasa 1977/3–1979/12 3,000 4,000
Afghanistan 1978/4–1992/4 1,800,000 1,800,000
Burma 1978/1–1978/12 5,000 5,000
El Salvador 1980/1–1989/12 40,000 60,000
Uganda 1980/12–1986/1 200,000 500,000
Syria 1981/4–1982/2 5,000 30,000
India 1980–2000 25000 60,000
Iran 1981/6–1992/12 10,000 20,000
Sudan 1983/9–2003 2,000,000 2,000,000
Iraq 1988/3–1991/6 180,000 180,000
Somalia 1988/5–1991/1 15,000 50,000
Burundi 1988 5,000 20,000
Sri Lanka 1989/9–1990/1 13,000 30,000
Bosnia 1992/5–1995/11 225,000 225,000
Burundi 1993/10–1994/5 50,000 50,000
Rwanda 1994/4–1994/7 500,000 1,000,000
Serbia 1998/12–1999/7 10,000 10,000

20th century democides causing more than one million deaths.

20th century democides causing more than one million deaths. From Death by Government, Rummel, 1987. Several estimates have been revised after this date:[citation needed].
Location Dates Est. Deaths
Cambodia 1975–1979 2,035,000
China (KMT) 1928–1949 10,075,000
China (PRC) 1949–1987 77,277,000
China (Mao Soviets) 1923–1949 3,465,000
Colonialism 1900–Independence 50,000,000
Congo Free State 1885–1908 est C20th 3,480,000
total of 10,000,000
Germany 1933–1945 20,946,000
Japan 1936–1945 5,964,000
Pakistan 1958–1987 1,503,000
Poland 1945–1948 1,585,000
Mexico 1900–1920 1,417,000
North Korea 1948–1987 1,563,000
Russia 1900–1917 1,066,000
Turkey 1909–1918 1,883,000
Vietnam 1945–1987 1,670,000
Yugoslavia (Tito) 1944–1987 1,072,000
U.S.S.R. 1917–1987 61,911,000

Selected pre-20th century democides.

Selected pre-20th century democides. From Death by Government, Rummel, 1987 [1].
Events Dates Est. Deaths
The Crusades 1095–1272 1,000,000
Albigensian Crusade 1208–1249 200,000
By Mongols 14th–15th Century 29,927,000
By Aztecs Centuries >1,000,000
Thirty Years' War 1618–1648 5,750,000
Witch Hunt 15th–17th Century 100,000
Spanish Inquisition 16th–18th Century 3,000
In China 221 BC–19th Century 33,519,000
In Iran 5th–19th Century >2,000,000
In Russia 10th–19th Century >1,007,000
In Ottoman Empire 12th–19th Century >2,000,000
In India 13th–19th Century >4,511,000
Slavery of Africans 1451–1870 17,267,000
In Japan 1570–19th Century >1,500,000
Native Americans 16th–19th Century 13,778,000
French Revolution 1793–1794 263,000

Emphasis must be stressed that the condition of the people who were subjected to the "African Slave Trade" is that they were not slaves prior to their subjectgation into the category of "slave". Thus research must be conducted into how demo/genocide has played into the slave making process, maintenance and current thinking up to these modern times of victims of the above mentioned acts.

Bloodiest dictators for the millennium.

Bloodiest dictators for the millennium.Rummel, [2].
Dictator Dates Est. Deaths
Genghis Khan 1215–1233 4,000,000
Adolf Hitler 1933–1945 20,946,000
Chiang Kai-shek 1921–1948 10,000,000
Kublai Khan 1252–1279 19,000,000
Vladimir Lenin 1917–1924 4,000,000
Leopold II of Belgium 1885–1908 10,000,000
Pol Pot 1968–1987 2,000,000
Joseph Stalin 1929–1953 43,000,000
Hideki Tojo 1941–1945 4,000,000
Mao Zedong 1923–1976 73,000,000

Update on democides

In May 2005, Rummel guessed the number for Darfur Conflict to be over 400,000.[citation needed]

In November 2005, he estimated the democide in Mao's China (1949–1975) at 73,000,000.[10]

In December 2005, he raised his estimate for colonial democide to 50,000,000 and estimated the democide in the Congo Free State to 10,000,000.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy, Stephen Thane Davis, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001, ISBN 066422251X Google Books
  2. ^ Understanding and Preventing Violence: The Psychology of Human Destructiveness, Leighton C. Whitaker, CRC Press, 2000, ISBN 0849322650 Google Books
  3. ^ Contemporary Responses to the Holocaust, Konrad Kwiet, Jürgen Matthäus, Praeger/Greenwood, 2004, ISBN 0275974669 Google Books
  4. ^ Genocide.
  5. ^ (Lemkin, Raphael. "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe," 1944.)
  6. ^ Rummel’s definition.
  7. ^ Miracle.
  8. ^ Genocide.
  9. ^ "The Cambodian Genocide Program". Genocide Studies Program. Yale University. 1994-2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  10. ^ Stalin Exceeded Hitler in Monstrous Evil; Mao Beat Out Stalin.

External links


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